Friday 7 September 2018

Tony Carroll: Shrewd Dude

Formerly stable jockey to the late Pat Taylor and Stan Mellor, Tony Carroll first took out a public training licence in August 1995 and saddled his first winner, Queen Of Shannon, in an apprentice selling handicap at Windsor in August 1996. Carroll was initially based at Inkberrow in Worcestershire, where he spent the first ten years of his training career.

In those early years, the majority of his horses were, at best, modest. He enjoyed success with Cerulean Rose in the Zuhair Stakes at Goodwood, worth £10,725 to the winner, in July, 2003. However, his string was better typified by the likes of Macaw-Bay, who won three ordinary hurdle races between October 1999 and May 2000, Firestone, who won a couple of similar races in the spring of 2002 and Moving Earth, who won four races over hurdles and fences between 2003 and 2005.

In response to increased demand, Carroll subsequently moved to larger premises at Wixford, near Stratford-upon-Avon. He enjoyed the biggest payday of his career, at that point, when Forthright won the John Smith’s Scottish County Hurdle at Musselburgh in February 2007, but has enjoyed all his major successes since moving back to Worcestershire in 2006.

At that point, he took charge of purpose-built yard at Cropthorne Stud, near Pershore, and has continued to send out a steady stream of winners every since. He saddled his first Listed race winner on the Flat, Djarvo, in the Prix La Fleche at Maisons-Laffite in June 2011 and his first Listed race winner over Jumps, Le Bacardy, in the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase at Ayr in April, 2014. Two months later, Caspian Prince gave Carroll the biggest win of his career, so far, when holding on by a short head in the Investec Corporate Banking “Dash” at Epsom and repeated the dose when winning the Meydan Sobha at Meydan in the United Arab Emirates the following February.

Another excellent money-spinner for the yard has been Boom The Groom, now a 7-year-old, who has won six of his 55 starts – all handicaps – on turf, Polytrack and Tapeta and earned the best part of £200,000 in win and place prize money. The Kodiac gelding hasn’t won since holding off Duke Of Firenze by a head in the valuable Symphony Group Stakes at York in August 2016, but his handicap mark has consequently dropped to 95, 7lb lower than at York, so he remains one to keep an eye on in sprint handicaps, especially those in which he’s likely to have a decent pace to aim at.

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